Meet MIT Sloan’s MBA Class Of 2021

Maura Fitzsimons

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management

“Congressional staffer seeking to pair my passion for health policy with analytics that drive transformation.”

Hometown: Farmington Hills, MI

Fun Fact About Yourself: I took a pre-MBA trip this summer to Peru, where I hiked Machu Picchu and ate cuy (guinea pig), a local delicacy, for the first time.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Michigan, Political Science

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, Professional Staff Member

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Last year I supported the Senate Finance Committee’s bipartisan efforts to combat the opioid and substance use disorder epidemic. It was personally and professionally rewarding to help pass legislation that enables Medicare and Medicaid to better respond to this pressing crisis.

When you think of MIT, what are the first things that come to mind? How has your experience with the Sloan program reinforced or upended these early impressions? In my mind, MIT is synonymous with innovation and analytics. The number of classes, clubs and activities at Sloan that enables students to explore these areas has certainly reinforced my initial impression of MIT. However, I am also amazed by the variety of other opportunities Sloanies can experience while on campus. I quickly realized that I need to be very strategic about how I allocate my time over the two years so that I can take advantage of all that is offered.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I have been impressed by the diversity of life and work experiences that Sloanies bring to campus. While every Sloanie I meet seems to have a unique background, all share the drive to make an impact in their respective field. The opportunity to learn from my cohort’s various perspectives is one of the most enticing aspects of returning to school, and I look forward to being surrounded by such a passionate group of individuals.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Sloan’s action learning philosophy drew me to the program. The opportunity to gain real-world experience and connect with industry leaders as early as my Core semester is particularly important to me, as I am entering the program with primarily public sector experience. I look forward to working with a team of classmates to solve real business challenges and put the principles learned in the classroom into practical use through Sloan’s action learning labs.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am excited to travel with a Sloan Trek, which students lead and organize to expose classmates to new industries and cultures. This will be a great way to immerse myself in a new atmosphere and get to know Sloanies outside of the classroom setting.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? During the application process I was asked, “What is most important to you, and why?” – answering this question required a considerable amount of soul-searching, and synthesizing a concise, cohesive response proved quite difficult, as well.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I learned a considerable amount working in health policy over the last five years. Now, I seek to intertwine my knowledge of health programs with the business acumen needed to transform the way care is administered. The experience and skill set I develop at Sloan will enable me to gain a new perspective on the reimbursement, competition, growth, and regulatory challenges faced by the health care industry. Strengthening the health care system presents immense opportunities and challenges; Sloan’s innovative culture, community, and curriculum will serve as a source of inspiration as I continue working towards sustainable improvements to health care delivery.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? In addition to Sloan, I also applied to the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), Stanford University (Graduate School of Business), Northwestern University (Kellogg), and University of California – Berkeley (Haas).

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Taking time off from work for business school is an incredible opportunity, which also requires a significant financial commitment and lifestyle change. Therefore, I focused my search on programs that would provide the greatest long-term value and a stimulating environment for the two years spent on campus. The top five factors I considered were the following: (1) school ranking, (2) location, (3) campus culture, (4) predominant teaching method, and (5) the opportunity to focus on health care. The first two factors, ranking, and location, were easy to identify. To better understand each program’s social and academic culture required additional research, I spent time reading each school’s website and articles about the school, attending MBA admission events, and – most importantly – speaking with current students and alumni about their business school experiences. Finally, to identify whether there would be opportunities to pursue my interest in health care, I reviewed each school’s class offerings, concentration/certificate programs, clubs, and conferences.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? As an undergraduate student, I worked as a Research Assistant through the University of Michigan School of Public Health. One of my responsibilities was to interview individuals and families served by the Medicaid program regarding their health literacy, access to care, and satisfaction with coverage. Speaking with these individuals exposed me to the socioeconomic factors that can make navigating the health care system more complicated. This insight inspired me to pursue a career in health policy and guided my work over the past five years. While I am now pursuing an MBA to expand my focus within the health care industry, I remain centered by what gripped me years ago – improving the patient’s experience so they can restore their health rather than be forced to navigate a labyrinthine system.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? There will be countless advances in health care over the next ten years, and I hope I am working at the forefront of their development and implementation.

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